Thursday, November 29, 2012

How To Protect Your Online Reputation

By Brad Graham, Career Counseling Intern at CU-Boulder Career Services

In today’s world, communicating through social media has given us the ability to instantly broadcast our thoughts globally. We can now use Twitter from our smart phones, Facebook from our iPads, and contribute to blogs while flying on airplanes. Many believe that the many pros of these technologies outweigh the cons, but that is only if they are used appropriately.

Growing up, our mothers would say: “think before you speak!”  At least when we were young, this uncensored spoken banter vanished by the time the last word left our mouths.  Nowadays, technology has the ability to record social media content and store it FOREVER. That’s right, anything you say on Twitter or Facebook now can stick with you for the rest of your life.

You may have a polished resume, cover letter and top-notch interview skills, but that inappropriate Facebook picture or infamous blog post you contributed to in a heated rage may eliminate your candidacy for a job. Employers are now using search-engines to find out more about who you are outside of the interview setting. According to a 2009 study, 45% of all employers who conduct background checks are searching the Internet for this so-called “digital dirt.”
3 Tips to Protect Your Online Reputation:

1.     Remember who your friends are on Twitter and Facebook. Anyone who is in your network of friends (or even friends of friends) can see or search anything you post. Make sure that you are A) being appropriate with your posts and B) knowledgeable about what privacy settings need to be activated to protect yourself.
2.     Again, when contributing to blogs, be aware that the information that is being shared can be searchable. As a result, experts recommend that eliminating identifiable photos or screen names is a smart move. As always, be careful with what you post. You don’t want your digital-trail of inappropriate comments to come back to haunt you when you’re job searching!
3.     Be careful when “checking in” to certain establishments on your smart phone. Many applications like Four Square now have the ability to locate where you are and push that information to Twitter and Facebook. You may think it’s cool to “check-in” to that bar or club three times in a week, but your future employer might not be so impressed.    

Just to reiterate the message, use social media as if your mother can see everything you post! After all, your future professional success may be hampered by those ill-conceived tweets, angry blog posts or crazy Facebook pictures that you carelessly shot into cyberspace.  Let’s face it, occasionally we all do and say inappropriate things, but we certainly don’t need the whole world and our future employers knowing about it!